Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Montessori Upper Elementary Practical Life: Outdoor Activities

NAMC montessori upper elementary practical life outdoor activities taking out recyclingOne Monday morning, my upper elementary Montessori students arrived at school surprised to see a huge, steaming mountain of mulch that had been delivered over the weekend. “Miss Michelle! Miss Michelle! Have you seen the mulch?” I laughed and said in fact, I had. “Are we going to spread it? When can we start?” They were so excited! We got busy right away.

That morning, our circle time consisted of a few enterprising student leaders creating a plan and dividing the rest of the Montessori class into groups to share the workload. Students made lists of tools and equipment we would need, with some contacting parents to bring what it seemed we were lacking. They assigned people to work in different areas of the schoolyard. It seemed everyone wanted to push the wheelbarrows, so a chart was made for students to sign up to take turns. It was decided that the ‘workers’ would need refreshments, so a group of students quickly rallied to make yummy snacks in our kitchen.

Montessori Upper Elementary Practical Life: Outdoor Activities


NAMC montessori upper elementary practical life outdoor activities planting a sapling

We soon had our Montessori students and a few parent volunteers out on the blacktop shoveling and wheeling mulch all over the school grounds. The adults offered helpful tips, showed the proper way to push a wheelbarrow so it wouldn't tip over, and demonstrated how to spread mulch to the desired thickness. Our “cooks” served fruit punch, cookies, and fruit salad so we weren't weak with hunger. By mid-afternoon, our task was completed and the exhausted but contented students were picked up by some rather surprised parents at day end. I heard the next day that they had all slept well that night!

As I've mentioned in a previous blog, upper elementary Montessori Practical Life activities work best when students are allowed to develop their talents and their leadership skills. Learning to function as part of a team is a valuable life skill. Being responsible for seeing a task through from start to finish is equally important. The resulting sense of accomplishment for having completed a job well done cannot be discounted.

Here are a few more ideas for upper elementary Montessori Practical Life outdoor activities:

  • Hauling things: dirt for a garden, sand for a playground, rocks for a pathway
  • Making paths and walkways along the school grounds
  • Creating and executing a plan to reduce, reuse and recycle at school
  • Raking leaves
  • Shoveling snow
  • Building and mending fences
  • Mowing grass
  • Planting and caring for a garden
  • Washing cars
  • Walking dogs
  • Routine car maintenance: checking oil, filling windshield fluid, changing a tire
  • Carpentry
  • Painting
  • Building playgrounds

Some of these activities, such as washing cars or walking dogs, could be turned into a fundraising opportunity with the monies either being used for class trips or to help with the class community service project. This builds an additional sense of responsibility and a Cosmic Education and service learning element to Practical Life activities.

Upper elementary Montessori Practical Life activities teach students the skills they will require as adults. Learning to take care of their family, home, and community builds responsible adults and citizens.

Michelle Irinyi — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, May 24, 2011.

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